But Which ISPs?

The list of which ISPs will or won’t implement the filter has been moved to Tech Liberty.

The Department of Internal Affairs has just issued a press release in which they:

  • State their intention to start the filter service within a couple of months.
  • Say that the filter will not cover email or file sharing.
  • Say that the information collected will not be used for law enforcement.
  • Claim that Internet NZ is happy with their plans.
  • Say that an independent reference group will be established to oversee the operation.

I have updated the general FAQ and technical FAQ with the new information.

Edit: DIA have released an amended version clarifying the position of Internet NZ.

Original version: “We understand that Internet NZ is happy with our plans but the society will be able to review the hardware setup to ensure it complies with industry best practice.”

Amended version: “Internet NZ has requested further information which the Department will provide. The society will be able to review the hardware setup to ensure it complies with industry best practice.”

It’s now available on their website, but here is the complete text of what they emailed me (amended version):

Continue Reading “DIA Announces Internet Filtering Implementation” »

Website Update

It looks like this site is going to be taken over by the topic of internet filtering for a little while. The normal (if infrequent) programming may or may not return at any time. Here’s a bit of an update on what’s happening.

Internet Filtering FAQs

Articles and Links

Collecting Information

I am endeavouring to collect more information around this issue. This includes asking political parties for their policy, talking to ISPs, writing to the Chief Censor, etc, etc. I will post news as the responses come in.

News Feed

I have created the @nzcensor Twitter feed for posting links to articles of interest. It will include new articles as well as any interesting older articles that I find. You can get it at:

Send me an email at thomas@thomasbeagle.net if you wish to suggest a link.

Next Steps

I believe the next step is to start a campaign against the planned internet filtering scheme. This will mean developing a policy followed by deciding on and implementing a strategy. Feel free to volunteer!

IT Minister Against Internet Filtering

In March 2009, Communications and IT Minister Steven Joyce had the following to say about internet filtering:

We have been following the internet filtering debate in Australia but have no plans to introduce something similar here.

The technology for internet filtering causes delays for all internet users. And unfortunately those who are determined to get around any filter will find a way to do so. Our view is that educating kids and parents about being safe on the internet is the best way of tackling the problem.

Maybe Steven Joyce should be having a little chat to Nathan Guy, the Minister of Internal Affairs?

NZ Internet Filtering Technical FAQ

Why Internet Filtering Concerns Me

I have recently been writing some entries about internet censorship/filtering and how it is about to be implemented in New Zealand. (See my Frequently Asked Questions list for more information about it.)

I thought it might be worth explaining why I am concerned about the prospect of an internet filtering scheme being implemented in New Zealand.

  • There is no external oversight of which sites are banned. I believe that censorship in a democratic society should be as open as possible.
  • While the internet filtering may be voluntary for ISPs, with most of the big ISPs on board (i.e. Telecom/Xtra, TelstraClear, Vodafone/Ihug) it will not be voluntary for normal internet users. I also believe it will be very politically difficult for an ISP to withdraw from the scheme once they have joined.
  • It is being implemented in a very “under the radar” way so as to avoid the fuss that has been raised in other countries such as Australia. If we are going to implement internet filtering I believe it should be done openly and through law, not stealthily and through a pseudo-voluntary scheme.
  • It is giving the government a powerful tool to suppress information on a medium that many people find too open. While the current public plan is to only use it for child pornography, I expect that it will be expanded to cover other material in reaction to events.
  • The proposed internet filtering will not be very effective as a) it relies on manually adding websites to the filter, b) it is relatively easy for motivated users to circumvent it by using web proxies located in other countries. If so… why are we bothering?

NZ Internet Filtering FAQ

The NZ Internet Filtering FAQ is now hosted at Tech Liberty.

InternetNZ Position on Net Filtering

I asked Internet NZ whether they have an official position for or against internet censorship by the government.

The response is that they are in discussions with the Department of Internal Affairs. The acting CEO Richard Currey also provided the following:

Governments have the right to determine what is and what is not objectionable, and to take action against that. InternetNZ’s view is that only objectionable material, as defined in the Act, could be a legitimate case for censorship.

I think we have to interpret that as Internet NZ being, if not in favour, at least not being against the net filtering scheme. This is an interesting contrast to the mission statement on their website:

We work to keep the Internet open and uncaptureable, protecting and promoting the Internet for New Zealand.

Our objective is “high performance and unfettered access for all” so the Internet continues to operate in an open environment that cannot be captured by any entity or individual for their own ends.

Government-run internet filtering sounds a bit like “capture” to me, and it definitely doesn’t sound like “unfettered access”.

I want to know what they are talking about in their discussions with the DIA.

$150k for internet filtering software

The Department of Internal Affairs have responded to my questions about the $611,000 allocated for Censorship Enforcement Activity in the 2009/2010 budget.

Firstly, they confirm that the money is provided for each of the next four years.

Secondly, they talk about the increased cost of tracking down and prosecuting people for the possession and distribution of child sex abuse images.

Thirdly, and of most interest to me, there is a one-off capital contribution of $150,000 to the purchase of the software used in the internet filtering they intend to introduce this year.

The relevant section from the letter:

As you are aware, the Department’s compliance activity for 2009/2010 includes the implementation of a website filtering system for New Zealand. To date the development and operation of the trial system has been met from within the existing budget. Budget 2009 provides for a one-off capital contribution of $150,000 for the purchase of the software on which the filtering system is based.

Links to (not very good) scans of page 1 and page 2 of the letter.

Customs searching data storage?

The NZ Herald reports that a man’s appeal against a conviction for bringing in objectionable movies showing bestiality has been granted.

What interested me wasn’t the decision (which didn’t seem unreasonable) but the following:

After the computer was turned off, he thought nothing more about the movies until he was stopped at Auckland airport. … On the external hard drive of his computer a Customs officer found movie files depicting males and females having sex with dogs and horses.

I infer from this that NZ Customs are choosing to look at the contents of flash drives, external hard drives and laptops when they wish to.

I wonder if they look for pirated mainstream movies as well as the legally objectionable ones.